That Is Disappointing

So I attempted to watch the live stream of the recital last night since we weren’t allowed to attend those shows. I am still sitting here today wondering how a studio that seems to pride themselves on the concept of “if you are going to do it, then do it the absolute best you can” can have streamed what I attempted to watch and call it good.

I understand that there are limitations due to available equipment, because the really good stuff is going to be expensive. They are already spending a lot just to put this on in the first place with all the costumes and the venue rental and all the little things I’m sure I’m not even aware of, so I don’t fault them for not using top of the line equipment. I do wonder why they didn’t make arrangements for the videographer they already use to handle recording the shows for them, but there may be reasons. Still, using a standard cell phone in a venue that size is far from the best choice, but again, working within a framework of what you can, I get it.

What I don’t get and what had me itching to yank that phone out of someone’s hands and work the damn thing myself was the utter lack of any attempt to get even remotely decent quality out of what was being streamed. They were too far away to get any details of who was on stage and didn’t zoom in so you were left with about 30 percent of the screen being actual stage with the rest being audience and the walls surrounding the stage. They never even made an attempt to zoom in closer. Sure, you probably would have lost some quality, but at least you would have been able to see what was going on on stage.

Even that wouldn’t have been horrid, but when you are doing any video or photography in a very dark area and with a very bright subject area like this, you are asking to have your subject get completely washed out if you don’t try to balance out the lighting. That is what the stream ended up as light night.

The first show was a little better. You could see vague outlines of the dancers on stage, but no details at all, not even enough to be able to tell what the costumes looked like, not even the color. At least on that one, you could see individual dancers. The second show was so much worse and you ended up with an undulating blob of white in the middle of the stage and only very vague outlines around the edges. You couldn’t even really tell if you had 2 lines of dancers or 6. It was absolutely useless.

I think what blows my mind the most is that they saw these things (if they were paying even the tiniest bit of attention) and still did the stream. From what I could tell, they never once made an effort to correct any of these issues.

I was so hugely disappointed. Sure, for me because I wanted the chance to see BG doing as many of her dances as I could, even if I wasn’t there in person. But I was more upset because BG was so excited when she found out that my cousin and MCG and her grandpa wanted to watch her live and now they won’t be able to.

I know that every single staff member of this studio goes above and beyond to put on this show every year and they always do an outstanding job of it, creating this amazing, unique experience for the dancers. This is most likely just one thing too many for them to handle and I do understand that. I am disappointed and will express that here to get that out, but I’m not going to rake them through the coals over it because I know this is just a little extra they attempted to offer that just didn’t work out.

I’m definitely disappointed and sad that everyone can’t watch, though. I kind of wish they hadn’t even tried to give that as an option because it sucks to look forward to something and not have it work out.

Let The Beautiful Chaos Begin

This afternoon begins the first of the three days of recital chaos.

It is the one day that is going to be the most odd as I won’t be able to be at the venue at all today other than dropping off and picking up. That isn’t something that has ever happened before. Even last year with all the restrictions on audience size, we were still able to be there for the final show so we were there when BG was done for the night and just took her home.

Today, though, because of how they have set up the shows, none of them are “hers” even though she dances in every one of them, so we don’t get to attend as they are still keeping the audience size down. It is going to be interesting to try and time everything so we can get there in time to pick her up, but not have to drive around forever waiting for her to be finished. There is zero parking around there that isn’t paid, so getting there and parking to wait isn’t going to be an option.

Even though that is kind of a pain, it isn’t the main reason I don’t love this arrangement. I hate that I can’t be there to watch my girl dance. Even though I will see the same routines in her designated show, I still want to see her every time she is on stage. I hated that part of last year, but it feels worse this year with this odd night where I can’t be there at all.

It is going to be interesting to see how many of these changes the studio adopts for their future seasons once all the restrictions are lifted and things go back to some semblance of normal. I do like the fact they started doing “ticketed” seats. They don’t charge for tickets, but you still have your seat and don’t have to battle the groups that are massive and save 2 or 3 whole rows even though the studio explicitly tells everyone that isn’t allowed.

Them breaking the recital into 5 shows instead of just 2 should also help with the crowds and parking a bit, though once the capacity restrictions are gone, that may no longer be the case. There are a whole lot of people that show up to watch that don’t have a dancer in the show. Some are parents from other shows that want to watch the other grades. Others are people that used to dance at the studio and their friends and family. With the current restrictions, those people aren’t allowed in to ensure all the dancers’ families are able to attend.

The plan for us for tonight is to take BG and drop her off at the door (she most likely isn’t even letting me help her haul her costumes this time), then leave to come back and pick her up when it is over. Thankfully, they are live streaming it this year, so I might still be able to see at least a couple of her dances from home.

It is going to be a LONG couple of days!

PSA: Phishing Scam Via Blog Contact

I’m sharing this for all my blogging friends even though I’m sure you all probably don’t need the heads up. There is a current phishing scam going on at the moment that seems to be directed at blogs. I don’t know if this is aimed at photo blogs or just blogs in general.

The gist is that you get contacted via your contact page (or maybe even email if you have that published) saying that you have material on your site that is in violation of someone’s copyright. I’ve now seen this phrased in a number of ways, but the base goal is the same. To try and get you to freak out enough to click on the link to see the image or material in question to verify their claim.

Because that is the other part of this. They don’t actually tell you what, specifically, you have posted that violates their copyright. They only post a link to a supposed body of work or catalogue, not a notation of your own post or page that contains the offending piece. They expect you to click that link to investigate their complaint.

What makes it easy to overlook that little detail is the fact that they throw out the threat of a lawsuit. They aren’t asking for removal of the violating content. They jump to legal threats right out of the gate. The latest emails I’ve seen go so far as to swear, under penalty of perjury, that all statements in the email are true in an attempt to sound more official and legal. Which is funny, because not a word of it is, in fact, true. Or legal.

The reality is that the link they provide that is supposedly proof of the copyrighted material is part of a phishing scam. More than one of the emails I’ve gotten like this come from known scammers, though I’m seeing they are starting to diversify and new email addresses are being used that haven’t ended up on warning lists yet.

This is a particularly aggravating issue for me as copyright violations, especially with regards to photography and art, are one of my biggest peeves. I don’t know if these idiots are just targeting photographers, but it is really infuriating. The first one I got irritated me. I thought it was a mistake that someone really lazy made because of the lack of citation of the violating material, so I just ignored it figuring they would realize they somehow contacted me by mistake and would correct it when they didn’t hear back from me. It wasn’t until I got another and I dug a little, that I realized what was going on.

So, heads up to my fellow bloggers. Just ignore those emails as they are just people being your typical asshole. That is unless you really do post copyrighted materials without permission (pretty much any photo or art or body of writing that doesn’t explicitly state it is free to use, even then, you should question it if it doesn’t come directly from the creator) . Then, you need to do some serious blog cleaning and self reflection because you’re probably the asshole in that case.

I’ve currently removed my contact page because this is starting to become a problem on my blog as I’m getting a lot of these lately. If someone really needs to talk to me, there is this awesome feature called a comment. It’s fun and useful and forces me into some human interaction, even if it is just through a computer.

Oh, and if you really aren’t an asshole and do have permission to share copyrighted material, be an awesome human and note the author/artist/photographer/whatever. Even better when you link back to their work so others can find them and worship them accordingly.

New Plan

Is it a surprise to anyone that I’ve had to change my plans for this week? Anyone?

Yeah, I didn’t think  so.

We got our garage door replaced yesterday. I had kind of forgotten that it would come unpainted, but remembered at the last minute and scrambled to go get the paint I needed. Guess what I’m working on now?

It isn’t my craft room.

I spent a chunk of my day yesterdday getting some much needed running done for BG and to get the paint. The rest was spent up and down a ladder getting everything caulked up. Which was so not fun as we found that some of the trim around this door isn’t in great shape as it has a few too many soft spots. It really probably needs to be replaced, but we aren’t doing that at this point.

It most likely isn’t the only trim on the house in such a state, which is laughable as we were told, repeatedly, while the house was being built that this type of trim wouldn’t rot even if you left it unpainted. I want to do bodily harm to the people that built my house over all the things that are messed up with it. The trim issue is only one tiny reason I feel that way. Seeing this yesterday is just one more drop in the ocean of frustrations we’ve had with our builder, even 17 years later.

I had planned to get a few things done in my craft room this week before the true chaos of recital hits toward the end, but this door is taking a whole lot more time that I anticipated. Because it has wood trim on the steel panels, I have to caulk every single edge and seam, and there are a lot, before I can paint. Just the bit I did yesterday, going up and down the ladder, has me feeling it today. I really don’t want to have to attempt to haul a thousand pounds of costumes and shoes around while even my teeth ache, so I’m only going to finish up the caulking today and call it done until after recital.

As much of a pain as it is and with the extra work, I’m glad to finally have the new door, even unpainted. I hated seeing that gouge every time I stepped outside. Unfortunately, now that we know what a major pain it is to do anything with these doors, I’m going to be a nervous wreck every time the neighbor has his yard mowed.

Pictures, Recital, Dance!

Recital week is always hectic. Last year and this year, a little more chaotic than usual because of adjustments made due to covid. Pictures were only allowed for individuals and only by appointment. No group photos were taken because of occupancy limits in the studio.

That also meant that their usual set up of a small dressing room for dancers in the studio was not allowed, making me get creative about how BG changed between her costumes. I hung a few sheets around the back end of my car to give her privacy, but it didn’t make it easy. Trying to swap out of a costume in a cramped back car seat is not an easy task, even more so when trying to keep things like hair and make up neat, but it was definitely hilarious to hear BG struggle through it with her grunts and commentary and complaints and her own hysterical laughter at how ridiculous it was.

The studio is continuing their extended 5 show dress rehearsal and 5 show recital again this year. So, again, BG will be dancing a ridiculous amount of numbers. They did break up dress rehearsal across 2 nights this year instead of one, but recital is still in one day. That means she will be doing 38 dances over the course of 3 days. 19 of those in a single day over about 12 or 13 hours.

Those dances cover tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, and hip hop. Some are just repeats of the same routine in the different shows, but that is still 9 different routines that she has to memorize. That is a lot of choreography to retain. That doesn’t even touch on the pieces of the dances that she has worked on with the little kids she assists throughout the week.

That number also includes one performance where BG gets a tiny, but noticeable spotlight, something this studio almost never does and the few times they do, it is ALWAYS a senior. There will be a brief point where she will be standing front and center, by herself, while every other dancer on stage has dropped to the ground. It only lasts a few counts and she only has a few steps that she is doing alone, but it so unusual and a point where everyone will absolutely be looking at her, that is is kind of stressful. Probably way more for me than for her, though. She’s just fine. I’m going to be the nervous one.

The studio is also live streaming this year so family and friends that wouldn’t normally get to see this amazing event will get that chance, so there is some added pressure knowing that there may be a whole lot more people watching than previous years.

I look at all of this and am, yet again, amazed. A huge part of that is BG’s ability to pull all of that off and do it well in the process. I’m also a little in awe at the fact that she gets to do this and has this phenomenal experience with this studio. I’ve always thought that what they do is pretty unique, but when you see all the pieces as they start to come together: the routines, the costumes, the backdrops, the programs, all the pieces you’d expect to see in a professional stage performance, it really drives home how lucky all these kids are to get this experience.

There will be another day or two of calm before the storm that is recital. Even that calm is deceptive because part of that time is going to be spent packing up and organizing all those costumes, shoes, accessories, and “might need just in case” things always get packed.

It also includes an emergency shopping trip this morning to get a desperately needed adjustment for one of those costumes that we didn’t realize we needed until she went for pictures yesterday (and not the first year I’ve had to do a last minute run like that).

Come late Saturday night, my car will be covered in glitter, I will be sad and relieved that another year of dance is done, and BG will be utterly exhausted but still bouncing around on an adrenaline high and unable to sit still and won’t go to bed until hours after we get home.

I will also be doing my damnedest to avoid thinking about the fact that this year is the next to last one ever. I will try not to cry when I see the seniors tear up and start hugging on each other at the end of their final performance of the night, knowing that next year I’m going to be a basket case when that is BG.

I will also be constantly reminding myself that it’s okay to put the camera down every once in a while. I don’t need every single step recorded. It’s okay to miss a shot in exchange for watching the whole stage (though I adore watching BG’s face through the camera lens as she dances).

There are always performances that I look forward to the most, but this year it seems like it is every single one. Unlike last year that had all kind of snags and costumes that failed to arrive on time, everything fell into place beautifully this year. The costumes are stunning (that doesn’t always happen) and the dances are even better.

It is all going to be amazing and worth all the stress and chaos and exhaustion. It always is.

Color Series: White Day 7

This white series had really kind of felt like I was cheating. White is one of those colors that my brain doesn’t like to assign to most things. Many of the photos I posted really registered as “very pale purple” or “cream” or any number of tints or shades in the white range, but still holds some color. Which frustrated me.

To me, white almost isn’t a color. It is the absence of color, but it tends to reflect colors that are around it so there is always some color visible. Or, as I said above, it is really just an extremely pale version of a color. Either way, my brain doesn’t really like to put most things in a white category. Especially not things in nature as those will almost always pull other colors in.

While I shared some really pretty photos, very few of them actually ping white to me, so this series was hard on my poor artist’s brain.

I’ll be starting another series soon usings LA’s suggestion of doing cool and warm colors to cover some of those in betweens my brain refuses to put in a standard color range. I probably won’t start that for another week. I need to get past recital before my brain can function again. That’s assuming it ever really functions well to begin with.

I’m off to spend a chunk of Mother’s Day sitting my mobile dressing room (aka, my car with sheets hung up over windows) so BG can do costume changes for pictures. An interesting experience brought on by covid restrictions. It also means I get to do some creative photography on my own with her in front of her studio, so it’s all fun, if a little chaotic.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Just Enjoying

There has been no work done on my craft room the last few days. There were things that desperately needed to get done and Hubby wanted to spoil me a bit, so I took a bit of a break.

Hubby and I both had our 2nd vaccine shot scheduled for Thursday morning, so I suggested he just take the day off so we could go car shopping for MC. We have managed to hold off as long as possible on actually buying another car, but both of our kids are most likely going to be working over the summer and them having to try and share or have one of us take them and drop them off was going to be awful. We might be able to get away with it over the summer if we really twisted ourselves in knots, but there would be absolutely no choice come fall when they were both back in school, in person, so we decided to at least start looking.

We lucked out and found a pretty awesome deal on an 8 year old car that was in near pristine condition and relatively low miles for the age, so MC got his first car on Thursday. One he no longer has to share with BG and there is no longer any need to attempt to coordinate who gets the car and who is getting driven where. It is kind of a relief for everyone. BG is ecstatic that she actually gets to drive to dance again and MC is being quietly happy.

Yesterday, I heard back from BG’s school about her AP calculus class. This has been something of a problem this last semester. I’ve been in talks with a district superintendent at the school about the program they moved her to for second semester that turned out to be something of a disaster. After a lot of phone calls and one very unhappy superintendent (yes, the program ended up being that problematic), we finally have the problems resolved and BG will get to sort of redo second semester with her old calculus teacher on a one on basis over the summer to get her credit and not have this impact her GPA.

I may complain that our school district hasn’t been the best about a lot of things over the years, sometimes even downright crappy enough to earn the tag phrase of “a bunch of drunken monkeys” from me, but they have bent over backwards and gone above and beyond to fix this issue for BG even though part of the problem fell squarely on her shoulders. Even with her part in this, I’m so relieved to see that our district isn’t willing to accept such a low level of quality when it comes to the educational programs they offer and are more than willing to help BG through this.

She is lucky that her previous teacher absolutely adored her and was willing to take the time this summer to work with her. She is lucky she has this chance to fix things. This has been a harsh lesson for her with regards to learning to ask for help when you need it, but she has learned that she has enough anxiety issues that things will snowball on her if she doesn’t. So after much stress and worry, things are worked out and she is going to get through one of the most hellacious parts of her entire school experience with only some emotional and self confidence bruises.

Hubby also took off yesterday so he could spend the day spoiling me. Mother’s day on Sunday is for the kids. He wanted a day for himself so he picked Friday. I’ve now gotten breakfast in bed two days in a row. Yesterday we went and got me some flowers for my pots and some for the flower beds. Flowers that I’ll be out planting today.

He also converted a nook in our bedroom to a mini, private movie theater. He moved our big TV, DVD player and sound system and we spent the night just watching movies that we wanted to watch that the kids weren’t interested in. It was so nice and relaxing and cozy.

There will be no craft room work again today because of said flower planting. There will be no work tomorrow, either. Both because of Mother’s day and because I’ll be spending a chunk of that day with my car turned into a dressing room for quick costume changes so BG can get her dance pictures done. While it may be a bit of chaos, it is always such a fun day.

I will only have a couple of work days next week because it is recital week and a HUGE chunk of my time will be dedicated to either prepping for recital, taking BG to and from her shows (the ones we don’t get to attend), or attending her shows. Again, tons of chaos and stress, but also an absolutely amazing time. Considering this is her second to last year for dance, I’m going to be enjoying every single second of that chaos.

It has been a really amazing couple of days. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy a few more.

Craft Room Project: Only 1 And A Half Cabinets To Go!

I am SO close to being done with the build phase of these cabinets. There is only one more that I have to put together (I already have all the pieces cut), one that is already built that I need to modify to add a center divider and some shelves (that would be the 1/2), and I have 4 drawers to build (which I didn’t add to my count) and these are essentially built.

Of course, I still have doors to work on, but those are going to be a breeze in comparison to the cabinets themselves. There are also the “faces” I have to add to the sides of the cabinets that will show to the room, but I’ve been keeping those parts in the door grouping because they are pretty much the same thing.

I was working on my second to last cabinet when I goofed on my measurement of the back panel and cut it too short. Of course, I had exactly the right amount of that panel material left to finish these cabinets and that goof means I now have to run out and pick up one more sheet. It also meant I couldn’t get that last one finished today.

Even with the goof, I feel really good about what I got accomplished today.

There are only a couple of days left in this week that I’m going to have uninterrupted to work and next week won’t see much getting done at all because it is recital week and I have so many things I have to do to help BG get ready for that. As soon as recital is over, though, it should be smooth sailing for a while as I have no more commitments until MCG and her family come in June.

Color Series: White Day 1

White will be the last of the regular color series. I will start a slightly different phase after this.

For anyone that wants to play along, my only suggestions (suggestions, not rules!) are:

The color is the dominate focus in the image as opposed to a small spot in a lot of other colors.

Drop a comment so I can follow along on your color journey.

That’s it! I hope you play along and have some fun!

The Thing About Color

Doing the color series had been a lot of fun. It has been a challenge at times, but still fun. I want to do a few more, slightly different parts, but I wanted to dig in a little and share how my artist brain works when it comes to color.

If I were to guess, I’d have to say that at least 50% of the time, if not a lot more, when someone were to ask me to name the color of something, I wouldn’t just say “red” or “blue” or whatever the basic color might be. I’d probably have to add a qualifier to that and say that it was a red-orange or that the blue has a purple tone to it.

Then you have colors like peach that really are a true blend of other colors and is kind of it’s own color. It could be seen as a pink or an orange depending on shade, but this sits squarely in the middle of those for me so I wouldn’t put it with either one.

For me, I almost always see the blend of colors as so few colors hit a pure enough tone for me to be able to just say the one color. Sure, there are obvious ones and I don’t always have to be really specific, but if I’m trying to classify a color, I find just as many colors that fall in between as I do ones that I could say definitively fit into a color group.

When doing this series, I had so many photos I would have shared, but I didn’t feel they really fit the color. When I was working with the pink series, I couldn’t bring myself to put a dark magenta flower photo in that mix because it was just a bit too close  to red. The orange series had a lot of things that leaned a bit too far into the browns. For the series, I really wanted something that you could look at and say, without a doubt that, yes, that is definitely that color and I struggled with that at times.

That is part of what has made this series so challenging for me, the way I view colors. I love the idea sharing some of those that I consider in between, but I didn’t have enough of any one color to do an entire week on them.

And then you have black and white. Now that is a whole other ball of wax. Do I do only color photos that showcase black or white or do I use color that has been converted into a black and white photo, because that is a completely different thing all together. I adore black and white photos and could probably do a full month or more in just that, but I wouldn’t say they would fit in a color series where the focus is actual black or white. And like the in between colors, I don’t think I have enough to do a full week on either, though maybe white if I’m willing to post a lot of snow photos (I may have to do that one anyway).

So, I’m not quite done with the color series. I just have to figure out where I want to go next.

 

Craft Room Project: Cabinets Almost There

I’m down to 4 cabinets and 1 modification on a finished cabinet and the cabinets will be built.

That is if I don’t change anything. Again. For the 100th time.

3 Of The Upper Cabinets Done
3 Of The Upper Cabinets Done

Two of those final 4 cabinets are just like the one on the left and all of those are a major change. That area was just supposed to have a narrow, tall cabinet that left most of that wall space open, but the shorter counter there made me not love that idea. I changed it up to 3 normal sized hanging cabinets instead.

The cabinet to the left and the one in the corner to the right will all get hung and line up with the top of that tall, central cabinet. All the remaining cabinets I have to build will also be hung.

The other two I have left to build go on either side of the tall cabinet on the back wall. I’m still waffling on those two because they will be smaller than I’d originally planned. Either that or they won’t be the same, which they were supposed to be. They were originally supposed to be open shelves without doors, then I changed it to doors, but with glass to mimic the white cabinet I reworked. But if they are going to be a different size from each other or on the really small side, then I may need to do something different. I think those will be my last ones to build, so I have a little bit more time to figure it out.

Jewelry Bench Cabinet
Jewelry Bench Cabinet

The beast above has gone through so many changes and shifts from the beginning of this project that I’ve lost count. This was supposed to be the cabinet that forced me to move my switches. After a lot of thought and deciding that I really liked how open this is feeling so far, I sort of cut this one in half and changed the interior design.

Sadly, this removes some drawer space, but it made so many other things easier. Not that this sucker was easy, but it was not quite the nightmare that it was going to be. Having built this, I’m so glad I made the changes I did because I don’t think I could have actually moved the thing if I’d built it as designed. This is already insanely heavy, I can’t imagine how bad it would have been if it had been up to the height of the hanging cabinets on the rest of the walls.

One cool thing about this change is it gives me an additional counter space that will get stained. The top isn’t attached yet because I can’t do that until after it’s stained and the cabinet is painted. It will also have the decorative side added on the side that faces the room, but again, that is at the paint/door stage.

There are two more dividers that are needed to finish off my drawing pad/canvas storage section on the right, but those should just take a minute to add, but I didn’t have any more of that material.

The modification is to the other lower cabinet under my jewelry bench. I’m adding a center wall and some shelves to one side, similar to the beast. I figured if I had to give up some space from that cabinet, I needed to make better use of the space I had. That most likely will have to wait until I’m ready to pull everything out right before painting since I need it out from underneath the countertop.

I think I’m starting to see a slight glow on the horizon of this project.

 

Craft Room Project: Last Materials Run

Over the weekend, I got all the last of the plywood I had on hand cut, which had me with about half of the pieces for all my remaining cabinets ready to go. That made room for what should be my final round of materials. At least for cabinets. Those all got bought yesterday.

Of course, knowing me, I forgot something or slightly miscalculated so that will probably be another small run here and there, but this should have been the last big purchase. Which is a relief. I won’t lie, this hasn’t been a cheap project, even with me doing all the building myself. It has been made even more expensive because the cost of any kind of lumber is through the roof right now.

Normally a decent grade piece of plywood like I’m using, is about half of what it currently costs. Between supply chain issues and spikes in the lumber industry because of fires, everything has gone up exponentially over the last year or so. Just from the start of this project to now, heck, from my previous run a little over a week ago until yesterday’s run, that same piece of plywood has gone up by about 5$ a sheet.

It figures that I’d pick probably the most expensive time in history to build a cabinet heavy room in my house. So, even though I’ve tried to take advantage of sales or discount coupons or even cash back rewards from our credit cards to save on this, it hasn’t been fun to see those big receipts at the end of each trip.

It is a relief to know that I’m on the less expensive side of this project finally. I’m also thrilled to know that I’m so close to having the cabinets done. Even more thrilled to know that I won’t have to sit down and redesign or rework layouts or anything like that ever again, because of course I’ve changed those plans yet again.

I realized the other day that I’m grateful I didn’t opt to have someone build all those cabinets for me because I’d have either ended up with something I really wasn’t happy about, or would have been paying out the nose for all the changes and modifications I’ve gone through. Or, I would have frustrated my contractor enough to quit mid-job. I know I frustrate myself enough that I want to quit sometimes.